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Unknown Mexico, Volume 1 (of 2) A Record of Five Years' Exploration Among the Tribes of the Western Sierra Madre; In the Tierra Caliente of Tepic and Jalisco; and Among the Tarascos of Michoacan by Lumholtz, Carl, 1851-1922

Unknown Mexico, Volume 1 (of 2) A Record of Five Years' Exploration Among the Tribes of the Western Sierra Madre; In the Tierra Caliente of Tepic and Jalisco; and Among the Tarascos of Michoacan by Lumholtz, Carl, 1851-1922



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Project Gutenberg's Unknown Mexico, Volume 1 (of 2), by Carl Lumholtz

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
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Title: Unknown Mexico, Volume 1 (of 2)
Author: Carl Lumholtz
Release Date: August 4, 2005 [EBook #16426]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

Produced by Jeroen Hellingman

Unknown Mexico
A Record of Five Years' Exploration Among the Tribes of the Western
Sierra Madre; In the Tierra Caliente of Tepic and Jalisco; and Among

the Tarascos of Michoacan
Carl Lumholtz, M.A.
Member of the Society of Sciences of Norway; Associ
tranger de la
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Soci t de l'Anthropologie de Paris; Author of "Among Cannibals," Etc.
\ufffd \ufffd
Volume I

Morris K. Jesup, M.A., LL.D.
President of the American Museum of Natural History of New York
The Patron and Friend of Science
This Work Is Respectfully Dedicated As a Token of Gratitude and Regard


In the course of my travels in Australia, and especially after
my arrival at Upper Herbert River in Northern Queensland, I soon
perceived that it would be impracticable for me to hunt for zoological
specimens without first securing the assistance of the natives of
the country. Thus it came about that for over a year I spent most of
my time in the company of the cannibalistic blacks of that region,
camping and hunting with them; and during this adventurous period
I became so interested in these primitive people that the study of
savage and barbaric races has since become my life's work.

I first conceived the idea of an expedition to Mexico while on a
visit to London in 1887. I had, of course, as we all have, heard of
the wonderful cliff-dwellings in the Southwest of the United States,
of entire villages built in caverns on steep mountain-sides, accessible
in many cases only with the aid of ladders. Within the territory of
the United States there were, to be sure, no survivors of the race
that had once inhabited those dwellings. But the Spaniards, when
first discovering and conquering that district, are said to have
come upon dwellings then still occupied. Might there not, possibly,
be descendants of the people yet in existence in the northwestern
part of Mexico hitherto so little explored?

I made up my mind, then and there, that I would answer this question
and that I would undertake an expedition into that part of the American
continent. But my ideas were not realised until in 1890 I visited
the United States on a lecturing tour. On broaching the subject of
such an expedition to some representative men and women, I met with a
surprisingly ready response; and interest in an undertaking of that
kind being once aroused, the difficulties and obstacles in its way
were soon overcome.

Most of the money required was raised by private subscription. The
principal part of the fund was, however, furnished by a now deceased
friend of mine, an American gentleman whose name, in deference to
his wishes, I am bound to withhold. The American Museum of Natural
History of New York and the American Geographical Society of New York
contributed, each, $1,000, and it was arranged that I should travel
under the auspices of these two learned institutions. Many scientific
societies received me most cordially.

The Government in Washington readily furnished me with the official
papers I required. The late Mr. James G. Blaine, then Secretary of
State, did everything in his power to pave my way in Mexico, even
evincing a very strong personal interest in my plans.
In the summer of 1890, preparatory to my work, I visited the Zu i,

Navajo, and Moqui Indians, and then proceeded to the City of Mexico
in order to get the necessary credentials from that Government. I
was received with the utmost courtesy by the President, General
Porfirio Diaz, who gave me an hour's audience at the Palacio Nacional,

and also by several members of his cabinet, whose appreciation of
the importance and the scientific value of my proposition was truly
gratifying. With everything granted that I wanted for the success of
my expedition--free passage for my baggage through the Custom House,
the privilege of a military escort whenever I deemed one desirable,
and numerous letters of introduction to prominent persons in Northern
Mexico who were in a position to further my plans--I hurried back to
the United States to organise the undertaking. My plan was to enter,
at some convenient point in the State of Sonora, Mexico, that great
and mysterious mountain range called the Sierra Madre, cross it to
the famous ruins of Casas Grandes in the State of Chihuahua, and then
to explore the range southward as extensively as my means would permit.

The western Sierra Madre may be considered a continuation of the
Rocky Mountains and stretches through the greater part of Mexico into
Central and South America as a link of the Cordilleras, which form a
practically uninterrupted chain from Bering Strait to Cape Horn. The
section occupying Northwestern Mexico is called Sierra Madre del
Norte, and offers a wide field for scientific exploration. To this
day it has never been surveyed.

The northernmost portion of the Sierra Madre del Norte has from time
immemorial been under the dominion of the wild Apache tribes whose hand
was against every man, and every man against them. Not until General
Crook, in 1883, reduced these dangerous nomads to submission did
it become possible to make scientific investigations there; indeed,
small bands of the "Men of the Woods" were still left, and my party
had to be strong enough to cope with any difficulty from them.

Inasmuch as my expedition was the first to take advantage of the
comparative security prevailing in that district, I thought that
I could best further the aims of Science by associating with me a
staff of scientists and students. Professor W. Libbey, of Princeton,
N. J., took part as the physical geographer, bringing with him his
laboratory man; Mr. A. M. Stephen was the arch ologist, assisted

by Mr. R. Abbott; Messrs. C. V. Hartman and C. E. Lloyd were the
botanists, Mr. F. Robinette the zo logical collector, and Mr. H. White
the mineralogist of the expedition.

All the scientific men were provided with riding animals, while the
Mexican muleteers generally rode their own mounts. Our outfit was
as complete as it well could be, comprising all the instruments
and tools that might be required, besides tents and an adequate
allotment of provisions, etc. All this baggage had to be transported
on mule-back. We were, all in all, thirty men, counting the scientific
corps, the guides, the cooks, and the muleteers, and we had with us
nearly a hundred animals--mules, donkeys, and horses--as we crossed
the sierra.

It was a winter campaign, and from Nacori, in Sonora, to Casas
Grandes, in Chihuahua, we were to make our own trail, which we did
successfully. Ancient remains were almost as rare as in the rest of
the Sierra Madre del Norte; yet traces of ancient habitations were
found in the shape of stone terraces, which had evidently served
agricultural purposes, and at some places rude fortifications were
seen. In the eastern part we came upon a considerable number of
caves containing house Croups, the builders of which, generally,
rested in separate burial-caves. In the same locality, as well as

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